Nigeria: Coronavirus - I'm On Self-Isolation, Not Quarantine - NCDC Chief Ihekweazu

(File photo) Covid 19, Coronavirus

The head of Nigeria's disease control agency, NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu, has said he is on self-isolation and not quarantine as said by the health minister.

PREMIUM TIMES reported the statement of the health minister, Osagie Ehanire, when he appeared before senators to speak on Nigeria's preparedness for the coronavirus.

Mr Ehanire said Mr Ihekweazu's recent trip to China necessitated the 'quarantine'.

"The WHO sent a special delegation to go into China and speak to scientists, look at the cases, try and understand these disease more, the behavior of the virus. It has been found that majority of the people killed are people who have other sicknesses before: tuberculosis, cancer, HIV. Relatively young people are involved and all elderly people.

"Among those scientists chosen is the Director-General of the NCDC. We are very proud and honoured that he was the only African who was among the experts. They went there for about nine days. We have already established rules here that anybody who has been to China will go into self-quarantine. Chikwe has gone and come back.

"He has done the test, he is negative but we have insisted he must undergo the 14 days quarantine which is why he is not here. He is not allowed to come out until after 14 days. Because if you make the rule, you must obey it which is to set the example in Nigeria," the minister explained saying the NCDC chief, however, tested negative to the disease.

NCDC chief reacts

In his reaction, Mr Ihekweazu said he was only observing the precautionary self-isolation as required of people coming from a high-risk country.

On his Twitter handle, the NCDC chief said he is well and will be continuing his duty from home for the next 14 days.

"I am well and have continued my duties from home since my return from China as part of the WHO-China Mission on COVID19"

He said "the rumour that I am sick or in quarantine is obviously false. I look forward to returning to the office after 14 days of self-isolation."

Self-isolation is one of the precautionary measures recommended in the NCDC public health advisory for travellers from countries with ongoing transmission of Covid-19.

It advised that such people should proceed on 14 days self-isolation whether well or unwell.

The NCDC in a statement Tuesday evening further explained its principal's trip to China.

According to the statement released by the health agency, Mr Ihekweazu was one of the 25 national and international experts deployed to China by the WHO between February 16 and 24.

The mission met with counterparts in China to understand their response to COVID-19 and how global communities can learn from it

"The Director-General is adhering to the protocol to protect himself and public.

"He has been tested his return, since his return, and has since shown no symptoms of the Covid-19 infection. He remains in good health," the agency said.

Mr Ihekweazu had earlier tweeted two day ago that "one of the most important missions I've had the honour to be part of is WHO-China Mission on COVID19."

He said lessons learnt from working with some of the most hardworking experts in China, WHO and other countries will guide Nigeria as it responds to its first COVIDD-19 case.

Outbreak

Nigeria last Friday reported a confirmed case of COVID-19 which was detected in an Italian businessman who had flown into the country on business.

Since then, the Italian has been quarantined, placed under treatment and people who have had contacts with him traced and put under supervised isolation. So far, Nigeria has not recorded any new case of coronavirus, which has caused over 3,000 deaths globally, majority in China.

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